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Life at 26 Ain't What I Thought it Would Be

Hello again! I know, I keep taking long breaks between posts, which isn't ideal for trying to build an audience. Anyway. this post is going to be a review/analysis/fan-girl squeal about Anti-Flag's newest album "20/20 Vision". It was released on the 17th of this month, of course we had the pre-order so we downloaded and listened to that morning (plus we got the vinyl, although have no way to currently play a record).


First Impression


Quick, loud, aggressive, hopeful, some pleasantly unexpected instrumentation. It leaves you feeling fed up but also like there's something you can actually do to effect change. It's a positive fucking record and it's quintessential of the band, if you ask me.


Deep Dive


In case you couldn't tell by their name, Anti-Flag are a political band. This is there most overt record yet, for while there were songs specifically about George Bush ("Turncoat"), he was never mentioned by name. Meanwhile, the cover art here is Donald Trump's face and the album opens with his words. This entire album is a direct call-out of the president and his administration. The song that is the clearest cut of these is "Christian Nationalist", which was actually inspired by an article on The Intercept by Jeremy Scahill (incidentally, one of my favorite journalists; yes, I have favorite journalists) about Mike Pence. It's a damn catchy song, too. There's also "You Make Me Sick", which I'm assuming is directly about Trump, with the lyrics "There's no turning it off, there's just no way to make it quit" making me think of his ubiquitous presence on the news and Twitter.


Now, I did say there were hopeful songs, that you can hear as a sort of manifesto. "20/20 Vision", "Don't Let the Bastards Get You Down", "Unbreakable" and "Resistance Frequencies" make up this manifesto. The title track is, to me, about a new vision, a new direction for the country, which really encompasses the album as a whole. If you want hear what the lead singer has to say, here's an excellent interview. There's also a line, "Tell me which side are you on?/carry on, carry on, carry on/for the people or the gun?", which I was like...wait "For the People or the Gun" is one of their albums! I don't know if this was intentional, but either way, brilliant. "Don't Let the Bastards Get you Down" is about keeping your eyes open and your wits about you and not letting yourself shut down from all the bullshit. My favorite lyric there is "Open up the windows of your boxed in art/open the prison gates, open up your heart". I don't think I need to explain "Unbreakable". The closing song, "resistance Frequencies" is the call to arms...not literally, but a call to get involved, to fucking vote, to know whats going on in your local, state, and national community. Also, this song has some ska going on, which was not expected, but I fucking love it!


Fangirling (Why this post is titled the way it is)


I haven't mentioned "Un-American" yet, which is definitely my favorite on the album. Here's the opening "The bottom floor of a cold building/promised a career and a diamond ring/glass ceiling above, nothing under her feet/honey, just give me a smile, how hard can that be.../Life at 26 ain't what she thought it would be/now she's waking up from an American Dream". My first listen, that made me fucking stop in my tracks, because I was like "hey wait, I'm 26, get out of my fucking head! I thought I'd be in grad school by now. or at least in the process of applying and know what I want to study. Instead, yeah, I've got a decent job, but it sure ain't what I want to spend my life doing. I'm married, which I didn't expect, but we can't even afford our own place, and I make 2x the federal minimum wage. The American Dream is fucking dead and millennials were the last generation that believed it (Gen Z have known shit was fucked from the start, for which I envy them).


Anyway, that's my "omg this song is my life" song. I've been listening to the album on repeat during my drive to and from work for the past week (my weeks are Wednesday-Sunday), and I'm gonna know all the words by the time we see them in March. Honestly, the last time I listened to an album on repeat this much was when I got "American Idiot" on CD in middle school. Why, I'll have listened to it twice by the time I finish this post. Like, I've been a medium level fan for about a decade now, but this album makes me want to go into their entire back catalog and listen to everything and get them all on CD because I'm a person who still buys CDs. Basically, this solidly cements Anti-Flag as tied for my favorite band with Green Day (who have an album coming out next week, so be looking for that post soon!)

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